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Clarke MacArthur, Senators write Hollywood script

After missing nearly two years, forward scores series-clinching goal against Bruins

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- As the door to the visitor's dressing room at TD Garden slipped open to let the missing player in, a call went up: "Attaboy, Clarkie!"

There was a round of applause, followed by a raucous cheer, followed by other sounds of celebration and disorder, with Clarke MacArthur folded into the tumult.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Senators series coverage | Bruins accomplish plenty in tumultuous season]

 

He was, again, part of things, in a way he had not been for so long.

It was MacArthur who scored the first goal of Game 2 for the Ottawa Senators, his first in more than two years in the NHL, and it was MacArthur who scored the final goal of the series, giving the Senators a 3-2 win in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

The power-play goal came at 6:30 of overtime after David Pastrnak had committed a holding penalty, drawn by MacArthur, and gave the Senators a 4-2 win in the best-of-7 series, pushing them into a second round matchup with the New York Rangers.

It was, in so many ways, fitting.

This, after all, was a team that had fought through just about everything, through MacArthur's struggle with post-concussion syndrome, through Craig Anderson's absence because of his wife's cancer diagnosis, through injuries up and down the lineup. It was a team that was never supposed to be here in the first place, but is moving on.

"There's a lot of great stories in this room, but I don't think there's probably one better than that one," Senators coach Guy Boucher said. "You saw what he had to go through all year, and I think everybody wrote him off for sure, I think maybe himself at some point. But he fought through.

"He's the one that said, 'I'm coming back, Coach. I'll be available for the playoffs.' I wanted to believe him. I really did. But then you think, he hasn't played for two years? How good is he going to be?"

Pretty darn good, as it turns out. But not exactly easy.

"It's just been kind of a mixed bag," MacArthur said. "You've been off for a couple years and you're thinking, 'Yeah, I should make this play,' or, 'I should be able to do that,' and I've just been trying to stick with it and be patient, and it's slowly coming. I'm getting in better shape and it's just great to get that opportunity and be able to put it away like that."

He scored. He celebrated. He hit his body on the ice, and was overwhelmed by his teammates, who surrounded him and hugged him and celebrated his accomplishments and their accomplishments.

Video: OTT@BOS, Gm6: MacArthur ends series with PPG in OT

He had thought, at times, that he would not score again in the NHL. The days dragged on and the latest concussion, in training camp this season, threatened his career. But here he is, with two goals in the past five games, two moments of meaningful contribution to the team that nursed him along and back into the lineup.

"There was a few times that I did for sure," MacArthur said of having no more moments like these. "There's nothing like living in the NHL and living in these playoffs, and [the end is] something everyone is going to have to deal with one day. But I want to stretch it out as long as I can, obviously, and with the staff and our whole organization helping me get back and sticking with me, it's just a great feeling."

But it didn't seem like that would be the outcome. It didn't seem like he would have that feeling, at least not on Sunday afternoon.

The Senators had three shots on goal in the third period, and the Bruins tied the game on a goal by Patrice Bergeron 1:57. The Senators were outshot by a 12-3 margin.

That all changed in overtime. The Senators were rejuvenated and focused, outshooting the Bruins 6-0 and, after getting a power play, buried the puck and their opponent.

"I thought we were playing on our heels," Boucher said. "In overtime, the message was clear: We're not going to play on our heels. We didn't work all year just to sit back and hope things turn our way. We wanted to be aggressive, like we normally are, and we were really aggressive in the overtime.

"Instead of being scared to lose, we were hungry to win."

It had been such a close series, such a battle, such a grind, that Boucher had predicted that it would come down to Game 7 in overtime. He was close, which he pointed out in his postgame press conference. It was in Game 6 in overtime and, in some ways, the Senators felt lucky to be on the right end of that.

Senators defenseman Dion Phaneuf, for one, was nearly speechless after the game, overwhelmed by the moment. He had made the playoffs in five previous seasons out of 14 in the NHL, and had never been out of the first round. So it meant something to him to move to the second, did so with his longtime friend pushing the Senators there.

That was enough to leave him in thrall to the moment, a bit under the spell of what he and the Senators had just accomplished.

"What a fitting way to end this series, by him getting it," Phaneuf said. "It's an amazing feeling. I'm just so happy for him and so happy for our team. What a series."

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